A linebacker with size and speed to play right now? Yes please. That’s what I see in Mike McCray II out of Trotwood, Ohio. McCray II is a four star talent that is strong, fast, and above all, smart. McCray shows his football IQ on both sides of the football, he lines up at tight end as well, by always being around the football while it is in the air. He has a number of interceptions, and a good majority of them are returned for a big gain, or even a touchdown. It just seems as if he finds the ball, or the ball finds him at some point during the game. McCray II is a smart player, and this allows him to play up to the speed he has. He is a good downhill filler for the linebacker position, which is always a nice addition to any defense. His lateral quickness and agility is uncanny, and possesses the ability to chase down a ball carrier more often than not. He will play outside linebacker at UM and will be able to play the Will, Mike, or Sam linebacker in college, it really depends on where he is most comfortable and where he can make the most plays. My best guess is either the Sam or Will.
McCray II is a very good linebacker, but sometimes it seems that he realizes it, and forgets to wrap up and drive from time to time. He is a monster of a man in high school, the first one you’d like to have walk off the bus, but he doesn’t necessarily use his frame and size to really dominate tackles as much as I would like to see from a player who is 6′-3, 225. He needs to improve with the explosiveness of hits, and really drive his lower half on his tackles, but that will develop over time in college. Better tackler off an outside rush, than one that would be directly on him. Seems to come more naturally to him that way, and will be nice to have if he is an outside linebacker.
Overall, I love the film of McCray II. Shows why he is a four star recruit, and on his way to play in a big conference, like the Big Ten. Combined with his size, his intelligence, and his ability to be a pure football player, McCray II has a shot to be a player like Jake Ryan, and that doesn’t necessarily mean his game is similar, more of a comparison to his dominance while playing linebacker at Michigan. Is it completely possible that he can play a middle linebacker spot in college? Sure, but right now he has a rare ability to chase down players, read a QB, and make big plays, so he would more than likely be positioned on the outside, just so he could be able to tap into that potential that he has. He has a knack for finding the ball, like I said before, and will continue to make big plays at the next level. McCray II seems to have the ability to make a smooth transition from the High School level to the College level, which should be fun for Mattison to try to play around with. McCray II has the frame you’d like to see out of a player coming in at linebacker for his freshman year, however, he can put on some weight and still be able to fit his frame enough to not hurt his game.
Worth noting: He underwent shoulder surgery in 2012. Not something that should be worth setting the barn on fire just yet, but definitely is something to remind you of. He shouldn’t really be setback by this, but it is better that he got it done while in high school, than have to sacrifice some time in workouts and potentially camp, leading into games.
McCray II is someone I’ve had my eye on for some time now, and I am excited to see what he will do during his four years here. Paired with a nice defensive line coming in (Poggi, Charlton, Hurst Jr.) and linebacking core, he will be a lot to fun to watch when he dons that winged helmet. Impressive player, and sure to put people in the seats if he can put it all together.
As always, Go Blue!